Bleak House

Bleak House

by

Charles Dickens

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Mr. Tulkinghorn Character Analysis

Mr. Tulkinghorn is Sir Leicester Dedlock’s lawyer. He holds a grudge against Sir Leicester’s wife, Lady Dedlock, whom he suspects is not truly of noble birth. Mr. Tulkinghorn specializes in working with wealthy clients, and he consequently is privy to the secrets of many rich and powerful people. A cruel, merciless individual, Mr. Tulkinghorn sadistically delights in having power over others; he loves to collect secrets, as this gives him social currency and power over the upper classes, who are his superiors and employers. Mr. Tulkinghorn despises the gentry, but he also despises members of the lower classes, such as Lady Dedlock, whom he views as a social climber because she married into wealth. He is associated with a rat and a crow throughout the novel, suggesting that he is an unpleasant and sinister man. He disguises his cruel motives under a veneer of respectability and discretion. Sir Leicester trusts Mr. Tulkinghorn completely and thus never suspects his cruelty to Lady Dedlock, whom he tries to blackmail when he discovers that she had an illegitimate child (Esther) before her marriage. Mr. Tulkinghorn is a bully and a coward underneath, however, and uses his connections in the legal system to protect himself. He is very afraid of George—a soldier who comes to him about an outstanding debt—and threatens Mademoiselle Hortense with prison before she has committed a crime. Despite his respectable façade, he is not a noble man and will work with clients who are deeply corrupt, like the debt collector Mr. Smallweed, if this gets Mr. Tulkinghorn his own way. He is extremely good at manipulating people and often persuades people to act for him so that he can evade responsibility for these actions. In spite of himself, Mr. Tulkinghorn admires Lady Dedlock because she meets his cool façade with an equally stoic one when he threatens to reveal her secret. At the end of the novel, Mademoiselle Hortense, who wishes to frame Lady Dedlock, murders Mr. Tulkinghorn.

Mr. Tulkinghorn Quotes in Bleak House

The Bleak House quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Tulkinghorn or refer to Mr. Tulkinghorn. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Mobility, Class, and Lineage Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Wordsworth edition of Bleak House published in 1993.
Chapter 36 Quotes

‘I dread one person very much.’
‘An enemy?’
‘Not a friend. One who is too passionless to be either. He is Sir Leicester Dedlock’s lawyer; mechanically faithful without attachment, and very jealous of the profit, privilege, and reputation of being master of the mysteries of great houses.’

Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 437
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 54 Quotes

Heaven knows what he sees. The green, green woods of Chesney Wold, the noble house, the pictures of his forefathers, strangers defacing them, officers of police coarsely handling his most precious heirlooms, thousands of fingers pointing at him, thousands of faces sneering at him. But if such shadows flit before him to his bewilderment, there is one other shadow which he can name with something like distinctness even yet, and to which alone he addresses his tearing of his white hair, and his extended arms.

Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 629-630
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr. Tulkinghorn Character Timeline in Bleak House

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Tulkinghorn appears in Bleak House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
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...into the room where Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock are seated together. His name is Mr. Tulkinghorn , and he knows all the personal secrets kept by the nobility. He is a... (full context)
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...how to use these weaknesses to their advantage, and it is entirely possible, therefore, that Mr. Tulkinghorn is also privy to Lady Dedlock’s weaknesses and desires. (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn has come to update Lady Dedlock on Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which was in court that... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn begins to read the day’s report to Lady Dedlock but pauses when she asks him... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The crow flies towards Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s house in Lincoln Inn’s Field. He lives in an apartment block occupied by many... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn , who is in this room, seems to come to a decision about something. He... (full context)
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...discover what Mr. Snagsby is up to. Mr. Snagsby tries to sign to her that Mr. Tulkinghorn is an important client. Mr. Tulkinghorn asks where he can find Nemo, and Mr. Snagsby... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn pretends to leave the street, but then turns back and enters Krook’s shop. Krook directs... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Krook appears behind Mr. Tulkinghorn and asks what the matter is. He goes to fetch a candle and Mr. Tulkinghorn... (full context)
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...and who had suffered a “fall.” Krook replies that he knows nothing about the man. Mr. Tulkinghorn stands in the corner and it is impossible to tell what he thinks of these... (full context)
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Mr. Snagsby arrives, and Mr. Tulkinghorn asks him if he knows anything of the deceased writer, but Mr. Snagsby can only... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn then directs Mr. Snagsby to inspect the room and draws his attention to an old... (full context)
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...and the death is still the talk of the street. An inquest is held, which Mr. Tulkinghorn attends. A neighbor named Mrs. Piper, who has been very suspicious of Nemo because of... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...very bored. In the coach, Sir Leicester reads his mail and tells Lady Dedlock that Mr. Tulkinghorn has sent her a message; he says that he has something to tell her about... (full context)
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Although the house is very crowded, Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s room is always left unoccupied because he may arrive unannounced at any moment. Lady... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn discusses Sir Leicester’s running feud with Mr. Boythorn, who Sir Leicester feels should be hanged... (full context)
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Lady Dedlock and Mr. Tulkinghorn watch each other very intensely throughout this conversation. Lady Dedlock then retires to bed. Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Mr. Tulkinghorn is in his office, underneath the painted Allegory, who points perpetually to the floor. A... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Mr. Tulkinghorn sits beside the open window in his office, underneath the painting of Allegory. The air... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn offers Mr. Snagsby a glass of wine, and Mr. Snagsby repeats Jo’s statement for Mr.... (full context)
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...has given the medicine to Liz, Mr. Bucket leads him and Mr. Snagsby back to Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s apartment. (full context)
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...announces that “the lady” is there. A woman, veiled and dressed in black, stands in Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s room. Mr. Bucket asks Jo how he knows it is the same woman, and... (full context)
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...sends him away. When he has gone, the woman lifts her veil—it is Mademoiselle Hortense. Mr. Tulkinghorn thanks her for her service and dismisses her too. Mr. Bucket confirms that Jo has... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...gone far in the cab when George realizes that they are on their way to Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s. They carry Mr. Smallweed upstairs and wait for Mr. Tulkinghorn in his office. Mr.... (full context)
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George listens to Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s proposal and resolutely decides he wants nothing to do with the business. Mr. Smallweed... (full context)
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At last George says that he will answer Mr. Tulkinghorn later, if he may be allowed to consult a friend. Mr. Tulkinghorn placidly agrees to... (full context)
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George leaves the Bagnets’ home and returns to Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s. Mr. Tulkinghorn answers the door and asks George if he has changed his mind.... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...by the ghosts of Dedlock ancestors. Sir Leicester reclines in great comfort in the townhouse. Mr. Tulkinghorn appears from time to time on legal business and always pays great attention to Lady... (full context)
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...Jarndyce. Lady Dedlock’s attention is piqued by this. He also informs her that he knows Mr. Tulkinghorn , and that if she mentioned his conduct to anyone at Kenge and Carboy’s, then... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...have been destroyed. Lady Dedlock dismisses him but, as Mr. Guppy slinks towards the door, Mr. Tulkinghorn enters the room. (full context)
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Mr. Guppy is horrified to see the lawyer here and wishes him good day. Mr. Tulkinghorn , however, has met Lady Dedlock’s eye and a predatory look passes over his face.... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Once outside, George and Mr. Bagnet solemnly pace together. They agree to visit Mr. Tulkinghorn , but, when they arrive, his clerk tells them that he is with a client... (full context)
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Mr. Bagnet tries to cheer George up, and the clerk goes into Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s office again to tell him that they are still outside. They are admitted and... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn says that, if George chooses to do this, he will write a document which frees... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...does—a mercenary, unfeeling man who seeks nothing but power and social privilege. This man is Mr. Tulkinghorn . Although Mr. Tulkinghorn suspects nothing yet, Lady Dedlock knows that he is always watching... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...he has come to empty his room. He and Mr. Guppy are shocked to see Mr. Tulkinghorn in the shadows behind Mr. Smallweed, who gives them a wicked grin and introduces the... (full context)
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...Guppy is in the middle of taking down Mr. Weevle’s Great British Beauties collection when Mr. Tulkinghorn appears in the doorway and asks to speak with Mr. Guppy. Mr. Guppy turns red,... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn admits that this is quite right and bids them good day. Before he goes, he... (full context)
Chapter 40
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...and Lady Dedlock are in the library one evening, discussing the state of the country, Mr. Tulkinghorn is announced. Volumnia cries that she has seen so little of the lawyer that she... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn enters and informs Sir Leicester that the Dedlocks’ favored party has been ousted in one... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn says that Mr. Rouncewell’s political group is very active and “proud.” He launches into a... (full context)
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...she had brought upon herself and her family. Her husband, meanwhile, nearly died from grief. Mr. Tulkinghorn concludes his tale and hopes that Lady Dedlock, who remains frozen by the window, has... (full context)
Chapter 41
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Mr. Tulkinghorn returns to his rooms and is very pleased with himself. Not long after, Lady Dedlock... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn tells Lady Dedlock that his story was hypothetical, but Lady Dedlock thanks him because she... (full context)
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Lady Dedlock tells Mr. Tulkinghorn where her jewelry is kept and that she has a little money, but that she... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn says it is unfortunate that they must talk in this way, but that it is... (full context)
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A discovery such as this would destroy Sir Leicester, Mr. Tulkinghorn insists, and he wishes to prevent this. Lady Dedlock says that, if she leaves, this... (full context)
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Lady Dedlock considers for a moment and Mr. Tulkinghorn presses her to agree. Lady Dedlock concedes and Mr. Tulkinghorn politely shows her to the... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Mr. Tulkinghorn returns to London the next day and makes his way through the hot city to... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn does not know what Mademoiselle Hortense wants and thinks she might be mad. He tells... (full context)
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Mademoiselle Hortense claims that Mr. Tulkinghorn has used her. She came to him expecting revenge against Lady Dedlock and instead he... (full context)
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Mr. Tulkinghorn sneers at her and tells her that if she ever comes to him again, or... (full context)
Chapter 44
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...her if anyone knows her secret, and Esther tells him of her mother’s fears about Mr. Tulkinghorn . Mr. Jarndyce knows who this is and feels Lady Dedlock is right to be... (full context)
Chapter 47
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...other. George tells Mr. Woodcourt that the man Mr. Bucket took Jo to see is Mr. Tulkinghorn , a devious man who keeps people “dangling” rather than being honest with them. (full context)
Chapter 48
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...by Lady Dedlock’s haughty tone but restrains himself as he leads the sobbing girl away. Mr. Tulkinghorn is present during this interview and lurks silently in the corner of the room. (full context)
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Sir Leicester goes out on government business after dinner and Lady Dedlock is left alone. Mr. Tulkinghorn comes to see her and tells her that she has broken their agreement and is,... (full context)
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Lady Dedlock understands that this is a warning to her, and that Mr. Tulkinghorn now intends to reveal her secret. She asks him when he plans to do it,... (full context)
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...some time in the gardens. It is a bright, moonlit night. Elsewhere, in the moonlight, Mr. Tulkinghorn crosses his courtyard and makes for his wine cellar. A gunshot rings out in the... (full context)
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...look as it points down at it. The Allegory is the only witness; beneath him, Mr. Tulkinghorn lies face down upon the carpet, with a bullet in his heart. (full context)
Chapter 49
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...and he thinks George knows something about it. Mr. Bucket tells George that it is Mr. Tulkinghorn who has been killed and George cannot believe that he is a suspect. Mr. Bucket... (full context)
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...explains that Sir Leicester Dedlock has put up a large reward for the imprisonment of Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s murderer. Realizing that he is officially accused, George draws himself up with dignity and... (full context)
Chapter 52
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...when Mr. Woodcourt hurries towards her and tells her that George has been arrested for Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s murder. Esther is horrified when she remembers Lady Dedlock’s hatred of the lawyer and... (full context)
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...to visit George immediately. Esther goes too, both for George’s sake, but also because of Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s relationship with her mother, Lady Dedlock. (full context)
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...would lie about events in court. George explains that he did have motive to kill Mr. Tulkinghorn because he was very much in debt to the man. George says that, if he... (full context)
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...remarks on a strange coincidence. He thinks that he saw Esther the previous night outside Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s house. Esther feels a chill at these words as she leaves the cell. (full context)
Chapter 53
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Mr. Tulkinghorn has a very large funeral and the street around the court is crowded with carriages.... (full context)
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...as Sir Leicester repeats his insistence that he will spare no cost to track down Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s murderer. Volumnia and the cousin express their desperation to know who has made away... (full context)
Chapter 54
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...they talk in private. Mr. Bucket tells Sir Leicester that a woman is responsible for Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s murder and asks Sir Leicester to prepare himself for a shock. If he feels... (full context)
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...have a good reason for this. Mr. Bucket replies that he does and explains that Mr. Tulkinghorn bore a grudge against Lady Dedlock. Mr. Bucket further explains Lady Dedlock’s trip to see... (full context)
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...Hortense to sit on the sofa and tells Sir Leicester that she has been stalking Mr. Tulkinghorn . She took the room near the court so that she could follow him more... (full context)
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...Bucket says that he arrested George because he knew that the soldier had been with Mr. Tulkinghorn that night and that the two had quarreled. On the night after the murder, Mr.... (full context)
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...using curtain fabric from Chesney Wold, and that she, Lady Dedlock, and George all visited Mr. Tulkinghorn that night in a relatively short space of time. The day after Mr. Tulkinghorn’s funeral,... (full context)
Chapter 55
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...Lady Dedlock listens, shocked, as Mrs. Rouncewell tells her that George is in prison for Mr. Tulkinghorn ’s murder. Mrs. Rouncewell begs Lady Dedlock to reveal anything she knows about the murder;... (full context)
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...knows that her secret will soon be exposed. She thinks that she has often wished Mr. Tulkinghorn dead, but now that her wish has come true, her situation is more precarious than... (full context)
Chapter 57
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...him to stay out of London because he knew too much about Lady Dedlock through Mr. Tulkinghorn . (full context)
Chapter 63
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...mother from Captain Hawdon, with whom the trooper served. George then gave this letter to Mr. Tulkinghorn but did not know what the lawyer planned to do with it. He explains that... (full context)